Anti-wind power group to protest Rollins project

CAPTION

Construction company workers hired by First Wind of Massachusetts began tree-clearing work on the Rollins Mountain site off Lee Road in Lincoln on Wednesday. BDN PHOTO BY NICK SAMBIDES JR.     (WEB EDITION PHOTO)
BDN
CAPTION Construction company workers hired by First Wind of Massachusetts began tree-clearing work on the Rollins Mountain site off Lee Road in Lincoln on Wednesday. BDN PHOTO BY NICK SAMBIDES JR. (WEB EDITION PHOTO)
Posted Nov. 07, 2010, at 9:49 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:28 a.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — As many as 50 people will be at a Route 6 construction site near the Lee town line Monday to protest the construction of the $130 million Rollins Mountain wind project, an event organizer said Sunday.

“The reason we are doing this is to continue to expose the fact that this is such a horrendous project, that it is doing untenable environmental damage to Rollins Mountain and the ridges of Rocky Dundee [Road],” said Brad Blake of Cape Elizabeth, spokesman for the Citizens Task Force on Wind Power, an umbrella group of about 14 groups of residents fighting wind projects around the state.

Members of the task force and the Friends of Lincoln Lakes, one of the 14 suborganizations, were making signs for the 8 a.m. protest. The protest will occur near the Rollins Ridge site, where workers paid by project proponent First Wind of Massachusetts are building roads and pouring concrete bases for the 40 turbines, each capable of generating 1½ megawatts, slated for ridgelines in Burlington, Lincoln, Lee and Winn.

Blake promised that members of the 14 groups would be there.

“We have people coming from all over the state,” he said. “People from other communities that are threatened by similar projects will be there, and we have people coming from communities that have been wise enough to put wind turbine ordinances in place to protect their citizens — unlike the irresponsible support for wind that the officials in the town of Lincoln put forth right from the beginning.”

First Wind officials hope to have most if not all of the turbines and other materials being stored at the Chester site installed by April.

The Lincoln Planning Board approved the project on Dec. 1, 2008, with the other host towns eventually following suit. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s permit for the First Wind subsidiary came in April 2009, but the project, probably the most protested since wind-to-energy companies began investing in Maine, had been in civil court since then.

The Friends of Lincoln Lakes have lost all of their protests to the planning boards, DEP and the Board of Environmental Protection, but the group has no intention of stopping anytime soon. Its lawyer, Lynne Williams of Bar Harbor, is continuing to press legal action with state officials over the project.

Blake said the protest will underline the group’s belief that the project is improperly sited, First Wind hasn’t the money to finish building and operating it, and that state money should not be used to support the project.

“If anybody could see the devastation to the environment from the blasting and clear-cutting taking place on the ridges above the Lincoln Lakes, they would understand how horrendous the environmental impact is for this,” Blake said.

First Wind has argued that its project meets or exceeds all state environmental requirements and that wind turbines have no adverse effect on land values while producing environmentally friendly electricity and significant economic benefits to their host communities.

Rollins is the first in the state contracted to supply Maine utilities with wind power at discount rates.

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